Spraining your ankle is a very common occurrence, both on the sporting field, and in your everyday activities. You might land on a competitor’s foot during a basketball game, or step into a hole whilst walking the dog.
Ankle sprains can be categorised via a grading system based on severity.
- Grade I –mild pain and swelling but function and strength are mostly unaffected.
- Grade II –pain and swelling, with some loss of function and strength.
- Grade III – marked pain and swelling with considerable loss of function and strength.
A history of an ankle sprain(s) is the most common predictive factor to the occurrence of ankle sprain. 1 So unfortunately once you have sprained your ankle you are more likely to do it again. Also many people do not seek treatment for their ankle sprain and this can lead to stiffness, pain and instability.
This is where your Physiotherapist fits in.
Physiotherapists are able to assess the severity of the injury and advise the most appropriate first aid management. This may include strapping your ankle, or even wearing a boot for a short period to ensure you are taking weight through your injured ankle as quickly as possible.1 This is in addition to your standard RICE management you would normally do post injury.
Physiotherapists are also experts at assessing the flexibility and strength of your ankle and the muscles around it, and can provide a programme that ensures that you return to your pre-injury movement and strength in the shortest possible time. If you have had a number of ankle sprains, and/or your ankle is feeling unstable, your physiotherapist will also be able to provide you with a thorough assessment and give you an exercise programme tailored to your needs.
One of the more important aspects of rehabilitation after an ankle sprain is ensuring your balance reactions on the injured side return to normal function, therefore your programme will also include exercises to optimise your balance.
Lastly your physiotherapist can advise you on when to return to sport, and if regular taping or an ankle brace is required to minimize the risk of re-injury.
- Martin R, Paulseth S, Wukich DK, Godges JJ Ankle Stability and Movement Coordination Impairments: Ankle Ligament Sprains. Clinical Practice Guidelines Linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health From the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2013 Volume:43 Issue:9 Pages:A1–A40 DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2013.0305